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Digg.com has become the latest Web 2.0 service to be abused by hackers in order to punt malware.

More than 500,000 bogus comments have reportedly been posted on the site in order to drive traffic to 15 malware-hosting domains that promote a rogue anti-virus (scareware) package. Panda Security compares the attacks, mounted by miscreants through bogus or compromised legitimate accounts, to Rickrolling.

But instead of being redirected to an innocuous copy of Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up, surfers are induced to download a booby-trapped file disguised as a video codec.

"Malware distributors have been creating false stories with catchy subject lines as an attempt to bait (Rickroll) users into clicking links leading to an infection," explains Panda researcher Sean-Paul Correll. "In some cases the attackers do not create the news story themselves, rather linking to others relevant content."

As well as driving surfers to maliciously constructed domains, the trick also boosts the search engine ranking of hacker-controlled websites. Digg.com’s abuse department has been notified of the attack and the malware domains it seeks to promote.

Security blogger Dancho Danchev adds that the practice of "self-recommendation" incorporated within the Digg attack is reminiscent of an eBay bot attack in 2006, when bogus accounts were used to boost the number of recommendations received by hacker-controlled accounts. The ruse was designed to boost the apparent credibility of fraudulent accounts once they were used to run sham auctions designed to fleece bidders while never delivering any goods.

Over recent weeks both LinkedIn and Twitter have been used to distribute malware in a pattern of abuse that now extends to Digg and shows no signs of dying off. ®

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